It is good to be back in New York, especially when the sun is shining – even if there is an icy wind to sharpen seasonally-low temperatures. Conrad Downtown is one of those luxury hotels that fits right into modern-growth area of Battery Park City, next to Tribeca. This is the setting for such sculptural skyscrapers as the 60-floor Liberty Building. The hotel is in a 16-floor KPF-designed ‘sculpture’. Enter at ground level, and take 33 wide-wide steps, or escalators, up to the soaring atrium. Rising through 13 floors above front desk is a vast Sol LeWitt, Loopy Doopy, that continually changes colour, by night. In all, Loopy Doopy is 80 by 100 feet, and it required 100 gallons of paint and 3,000 man-hours to complete.
The atrium is also home to a massive multi-part overhead sculpture, Veil, which apparently uses 16 miles of Vectran cable, plus a total 77 tons of aluminium. They do things big here. This imposing hotel, with 463 rooms has, says GM Marlene Poynder, the facilities that attract mega-meetings. There are ample conference rooms, a screening room, and a restaurant-bar, ATRIO, that must seat at least 200, and its open lay-out means it flows out into the lobby, for extra seating. Although ATRIO’s cooks and servers are all part of the hotel’s total 380-strong team, the menu is overseen by visionary restaurateur Danny Meyer, who also has separate restaurants on the ground floor of this building.
Why is Danny Meyer visionary? Ever since he introduced ‘new American’ cuisine at Union Square Café, he has looked ahead. Now, as CEO Union Square Hospitality Group, he now makes his restaurants tip-free: prices are higher, but guests know where they stand, and his team is paid well above industry par. Marlene Poynder, her husband Brian Fearnett and I went round to the Liberty Building, to its top floor, now Danny Meyer’s latest eatertainment-events operation, Manhatta. It spreads over the entire top floor, from bar to sitting area and on to a second bar and another dining area, with party-space too, and fabulous views, everywhere. It has a set menu, your choice of three courses. Of course, this being USA, an amuse is added, to start.
Staying at this modern-luxury hotel is really inspirational – Conrad’s motto is ‘never just stay – stay inspired’. Contributing to what will be a 90%-plus average occupancy this year, weekend staycationers rush here for local shopping, and theatre, and cycling and walking around. There is also the 24/7 Lifefitness gym. And others, as well as me, rave about the rooms (particularly if, like me, you face over the Hudson, see the sunset, above). Rooms are semi-divided, with the ablution area occupying half the width in the middle of the room. This gives a dedicated sitting-work area, nearest the door, and a bedroom area, by the window. And in case the view alone was not enough, someone has thoughtfully considered the guest’s mind: I had a brand new copy of Consistency Selling: Powerful Sales Results. Every Lead. Every Time, Weldon Long, foreword by Stephen Covey. This is a hotel that knows what is luxury, for today’s achievers. NOW SEE ROOM 1125